Assessing the Impact of Communication Delay on Behavioral Health and Performance: An Examination of Autonomous Operations Utilizing the International Space Station (Comm Delay Assessment) - 07.29.14

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery
ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
Comm Delay Assessment studies the effects of delayed communications for interplanetary crews that have to handle medical and other emergencies in deep space. In addition to time delays, uncertainty in performing a new, crucial task can impact crew performance and interaction. Three crewmembers perform eight tasks, with and without 50-second delays added, that vary in of criticality and familiarity.

Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending



This content was provided by Larry A. Palinkas, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.

Experiment Details

OpNom Comm Delay Assessment

Principal Investigator(s)

  • Larry A. Palinkas, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, United States

  • Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
  • Chih-ping Chou, Ph.D., University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, United States
  • Lauren Leveton, Ph.D., Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, United States
  • William B Vessey, Ph.D., Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, United States
  • Lacey L. Schmidt, Ph.D, Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, United States
  • Holly Patterson, B.S., Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, United States
  • Pamela Baskin, B.S, Wyle Laboratories, Houston, TX, United States
  • Kelley Joann Slack, Ph.D., Wyle Laboratories, Houston, TX, United States

  • Developer(s)
    Johnson Space Center, Human Research Program, Houston, TX, United States

    Sponsoring Space Agency
    National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

    Sponsoring Organization
    Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD)

    Research Benefits
    Information Pending

    ISS Expedition Duration
    March 2014 - March 2015

    Expeditions Assigned
    39/40,41/42

    Previous ISS Missions
    Information Pending

    ^ back to top



    Experiment Description

    Research Overview

    • Operational conjectures about space exploration missions of the future indicate that space crews will need to be more autonomous from mission control and act and operate independently, in part, due to the expectation that communication quality between the ground and exploration crews will be more limited by communication delays and other quality factors than on any mission to date. Given this context of operations, both researchers and operational training and engineering experts have suggested that communication delays and the impact these delays have on the quality of communications to the crew will create performance decrements if crews are not given adequate training and tools to support more autonomous operations. To date, very few studies have observed teams in remote environments that perform without communication with management teams (e.g., mission control), and no such studies have been conducted during long duration expeditions or missions.
    • Specifically, this study will examine how interdependent teams (such as those with members in the field and at home base) interact and perform tasks with and without delays in communications between the team elements. The tasks to be performed by the teams vary along two dimensions:
      • 1. those that are either critical or not critical ("criticality")
      • 2. those that are either novel or familiar ("novelty").
    • Tasks will include variations in both dimensions as it is assumed that highly novel and highly critical tasks are similar to those that a team may encounter during a long duration mission in which they have no prior training but must address. This study will provide a preliminary understanding of the impact of communication delays on individual and team performance as well as insight into how teams perform and interact under autonomous conditions in the analog environment most comparable to deep space.

    Description

    The overall aim of the proposed study is to determine whether the communications delays (as an indicator of communication quality) likely to be experienced on a long duration mission to an asteroid or to Mars will result in clinically or operationally significant decrements in individual and crew performance and well-being on the ISS. Specifically, we aim to accomplish the following utilizing the ISS (which are further described below):

    Aim 1: Determine the feasibility and acceptability of conducting such a study on the ISS.
    Aim 2: Determine if there is an association between delays in communication (like those expected to be experienced during a Mars mission), individual and crew performance and well-being.
    Aim 3: Determine whether this association is affected by individual differences (e.g., personality, locus of control), social support, perceived stress, and task autonomy.

    Main Effect Hypotheses:
    Hypothesis 1: There is an inverse relationship between communication delay and individual and team performance.
    Hypothesis 2: There is an inverse relationship between communication delay and individual and team well-being.
    Hypothesis 3a: The relationships between communication delay and individual performance are moderated by individual traits. That is, the inverse association between communication delay and performance is significantly greater when the crew member exhibits high levels of neuroticism and conscientiousness and low extraversion and openness, low learning goal/high performance goal orientation, and high external/low internal locus of control.
    Hypothesis 3b: The relationships between communication delay and individual well-being are moderated by individual traits. That is, the inverse association between communication delay and performance is significantly greater when the crew member exhibits high levels of neuroticism and conscientiousness and low extraversion and openness, low learning goal/high performance goal orientation, and high external/low internal locus of control.
    Hypothesis 4a: The relationships between communication delay and individual performance are moderated by level of crew perceptions of social support. That is, the inverse association between communication delay and performance is significantly greater when the crew member perceives less social support, compared to when the crew member perceives more social support.
    Hypothesis 4b: The relationships between communication delay and individual well-being are moderated by level of crew perceptions of social support. That is, the inverse association between communication delay and performance is significantly greater when the crew member perceives less social support, compared to when the crew member perceives more social support.
    Hypothesis 5a: The relationships between communication delay and individual and team performance are moderated by level of task novelty and criticality. That is, the inverse association between communication delay and performance is significantly greater when the crew member is engaged in high novelty and high criticality tasks, compared to when the crew member is performing low novelty and criticality tasks.
    Hypothesis 5b: The relationships between communication delay and individual and team well-being are moderated by level of task novelty and criticality. That is, the inverse association between communication delay and well-being is significantly greater when the crew member performs high novelty and criticality tasks, compared to when the crew member performs low novelty and criticality tasks.

    Mediation Hypotheses:
    Hypothesis 6a: The experience of perceived stress mediates the relationships between communication delay and individual and team performance. That is, a communication delay is first associated with an increase in perceived stress, which in turn, is associated with a decrease in performance.
    Hypothesis 6b: The experience of perceived stress mediates the relationships between communication delay and individual and team well-being. That is, a communication delay is first associated with an increase in perceived stress, which in turn, is associated with a decrease in well-being.
    Hypothesis 7a: The level of task autonomy mediates the relationships between communication delay and individual and team performance. That is, a communication delay is first associated with an increase in task autonomy, which in turn, is associated with an increase in performance.
    Hypothesis 7b: The level of task autonomy mediates the relationships between communication delay and individual and team well-being. That is, a communication delay is first associated with an increase in task autonomy, which in turn, is associated with an increase in well-being.

    ^ back to top



    Applications

    Space Applications

    Radio waves travel at the speed of light, which imposes round-trip delays of up to 31 minutes at Mars, for example, plus the time needed to form a proper answer. Comm Delay will help psychologists develop the proper buffers for flight crews to manage astronaut stress in completing critical tasks with delayed advice from Earth.

    Earth Applications

    Outcomes from the Comm Delay Assessment will help in refining procedures for Earth-based teams that must operate in extreme environments with intermittent or no contact with a home base and its experts.

    ^ back to top



    Operations

    Operational Requirements

    In development; currently requesting 3 astronauts (all USOS crewmembers). This study will target a certain number of specific tasks (16 tasks in total; eight tasks for baseline assessment and eight tasks with the communication delay implemented) over the mission phase (early and late) and will include assessments for tasks both with and without communications delays (50 seconds each way). Following each of the tasks, a post-assessment requiring approximately 10 minutes will be completed by each of the participating crewmembers as well as the Flight Director and Capcom.

    Operational Protocols

    Apart from the standard procedures the subjects will use to perform the targeted tasks, the post-task assessments will be performed using a questionnaire completed using the Crew Health and Countermeasures System (CHeCS) Data Collection Tool (DCT).

    ^ back to top



    Results/More Information
    Information Pending

    ^ back to top



    Related Websites

    ^ back to top



    Imagery